Our "In Conversation" series features long-form interviews with visionaries and change-makers

What if you got your neighbors together and occupied the public spaces on your book, transforming them into whatever you would all want it to be? What would you include? ...A solar-paneled tea station? A little free library? A mural? This is the type of urban placemaking that the City Repair Project in Portland, Oregon inspires and facilitates.

In this Upstream Conversation, we spoke with Mark Lakeman an urban place-maker, permaculture designer, and community facilitator who co-founder of The City Repair Project. In the last decade, he has directed, facilitated, or inspired designs for more than three hundred new community-generated public places in Portland, Oregon alone.

We spoke with him while he was visiting Santa Cruz about the capitalist history of the Urban Grid and how to reclaim our streets, revive community, and belong once more to place.

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is a journalist and researcher who uses systems thinking to support the just transition to a more equitable and sustainable future.

We contacted him after we came across his article, "White Supremacism and the Earth System," connecting the worldview that underpins capitalism to the racism that the Black Lives Matter movement is working to address, as well as the climate chaos and environmental devastation that we are experiencing globally.

In this conversation, we spoke about why systems thinking is a useful practice, the connection between capitalism and white supremacy, and the great potential we are in for a global phase shift to a post-capitalist world.

Nafeez is the executive director of the System Shift Lab and a research fellow at the Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems. He currently writes for VICE and he is the author of "A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save it," and "Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence."

Continuing our focus on the coronavirus pandemic and its intersection with capitalism, in this Conversation, we spoke with London-based economic anthropologist Jason Hickel. Jason in the author of The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and Its Solutions,

Jason’s new book, “Less is More,” is being published in August by Penguin. We spoke with him about international capitalism during the pandemic, new opportunities for degrowth economics, and how to fundamentally move to a post capitalist world — which will take more than just a shift in economic policy, but a fundamental shift from the world view of capitalist thought. 

You can read the transcript of the full interview here.

Continuing our focus on the coronavirus pandemic and its intersection with capitalism, in this conversation we speak with Doug Henwood, an economist and host of the radio show and podcast Behind the News. Doug is a regular guest on our show, and in this conversation he helped make sense of much of the economics surrounding the coronavirus, explaining the failure of the government's response, the different possibilities of how we might come out of this pandemic in the long run, and what coronavirus has taught us about the failures of capitalism.

Continuing our focus on the coronavirus pandemic and its intersection with capitalism, in this conversation we speak with New York State Senator, Julia Salazar, who represents New York's 18th district in northern Brooklyn, which includes the neighborhoods of Bushwick, Cyprus Hills, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, and East New York. This pandemic has hit New York City harder than any other city in the world, and the neighborhoods represented by Senator Salazar are some of the hardest hit in New York City itself. We spoke with the Senator about how she got into organizing and politics, democratic socialism, feminist economics, and the economics of the coronavirus pandemic.

More interviews from our "In Conversation" series 

The idea of Silicon Valley means many things to many people. The most prominent associations with this region and culture probably have to do with the tech industry — but that’s not the whole story. Not even close. There’s a dark side to Silicon Valley that doesn’t always make it into mainstream conversations and popular assumptions. Beneath the image there is a stark reality.

In this Upstream Conversation, we spoke with Wendy Liu, an author and Silicon Valley insider turned critic. Her debut book, Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology From Capitalism, is a memoir and a manifesto on how to transform the tech industry from the hypercapitalist culture of inequality, gentrification, and greed that it is to something more equitable, accessible, and supportive of the real disruptions we need today. You can read the full transcript here.